Different, sure - but determined? Yes!

Different, sure -  but determined? Yes!
Members of the determined community perform at a FAME event

A non-profit community event seeks to give the specially-abled a platform to break down perceptions and stigmas


Karen Ann Monsy

Published: Fri 26 Oct 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 2 Nov 2018, 9:09 AM

For many people of determination, while their status as 'differently abled' does come with its own challenges, it's the limits that society tends to place on them that they find far more crippling.
Dubai-based Rosy Ahmed found this to be only too true when she first moved to the city of dreams 18 years ago with her family - including her youngest daughter, Hana, who was born with Down syndrome. The lack of opportunities back then made the family seriously consider taking Hana back to the UK, so she could have access to a more supportive environment. Rosy can never forget the days when she "pushed so hard for my child to be accepted" - but all that was before Dubai started singing a different song.
With the goal of achieving a wholly disability-friendly city by 2020, and the government introducing policies and setting up infrastructure to ensure equal rights for all in the process, the British expat says the current "clear change in mindset and acceptance" of the specially-abled in UAE society has been a "heartwarming" transformation to witness over the last 10 years. Inclusion has become the much-welcomed name of the game.
There is, of course, still a fair way to go - which is part of the reason the founder of Purple Venture Events set up a free community event called FAME to offer people of determination a platform to showcase their many abilities in the fields of fashion, art, music and entertainment. "Some of us underestimate our children, who have the potential and confidence to exceed our expectations and achieve more in life," she explains. "This platform is about breaking those barriers of perception and stigma usually attached to the differently-abled."
With fashion shows, dance performances and theatre sketches among the list of entertainment acts lined up for this year's event - which will take place on November 16 at the World Trade Centre ballroom - Rosy remembers how, when she first introduced the initiative three years ago, participants came to her "in the hundreds". And that's how keen the differently-abled community continues to be, when it comes to wanting to prove themselves.
Take Aarti Shah, for instance. A huge fan of aerial yoga and dancing, the youngster enjoys performing to Bollywood songs in front of large audiences. Being born with Down syndrome has not prevented her from donning a variety of roles in the past, from librarian to photographer and, currently, marketing assistant at Chalhoub Group. She's not done yet though - some day, she'd love to be a dance instructor too.
Ethiopian expat Sofia Molla is an aspiring makeup artist - an interest she puts down to growing up in a house with four sisters. Though her hearing impairment has, in the past, proved an impediment to pursuing professional makeup courses, she hasn't let that stop her from building up her skills, watching video tutorials and practising on neighbours and family members every chance she got. The dream is to be employed by someone who will "look beyond" her disability and acknowledge her talent instead. "I believe in myself," she says. "Being deaf does not make me less talented or ambitious - so I hope to someday work as a makeup artist, like I've always dreamt."
Belgian expat Andreas de Haes works as a learning support assistant in a primary school because he loves kids - but music is also a great passion for the aspiring DJ, who is on the autistic spectrum. The youngster has no desire for the glory and fame that his idols Martin Garrix and Tiesto currently enjoy - he's perfectly happy to simply "keep the crowd moving" at private gigs. "If you see me live on stage, don't hesitate to come and chat!"
The UAE has set a great precedent for training determined ones to integrate into the local community and workforce population, says Rosy. "As a society, it's up to us to do our part to help these beautiful young adults shine, and celebrate them wherever possible."

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